It's a powerful force that trips me up occasionally. It keeps me from reading instructions thoroughly. It makes me forget rows of topstitching. Ensures my gathers are not distributed equally.
In order to keep this impulse in check, I have to be very strict with myself. To illustrate, I'll share how I'm keeping myself from screwing up Vogue 1212 — a "Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina" pattern, which I started working on this weekend.
I got this pattern last winter during one of Vogue's sales, for just $3.88 (score!). I love the classic princess seams and flared skirt paired with the sporty collar and three-piece sleeve. I see a lot of potential in this pattern (especially after making a muslin, which I will get to later). Here's the line drawing of Option B:
I'm using this white and silvery blue plaid wool blend, which I got from a former neighbor who was culling her stash during a move. I've had on hand it for a few years, but always thought it too "Chanel-suit-wearing-ladies-who-lunch" for me. If not for my friend Lizzi, who has said time and again how much she loves this fabric, I probably would have given it away. (She has cute style, so there must be something there I wasn't immediately seeing). Plus I have no budget for new fabric right now, so I'll give it a shot. I have five yards of it, so there's more than enough to ensure good plaid matching at the seam lines:
All that said, here are my rules for better sewing:
1. Don't sew something today that you need to wear tomorrow (unless it's something you have sewn several times before, or is a jersey miniskirt). Because that's when you end up setting a purple zipper into a black dress because you didn't plan ahead and purchase all your closures.
3. If sewing something more complicated, set a daily limit on the number of steps you are to accomplish. It's like giving yourself a set number of chapters you can read before bed, lest you find yourself finishing the whole book at 3 a.m. Do I have a problem with impulse control? Only when it comes to wholesome things like reading and sewing. No judgement.
4. Make a muslin. This step forces me to do No. 1, 2 and 3, essentially. It requires planning ahead enough to allow time for a test garment, so I don't start sewing something hours before I want to wear it. It forces me to not only read the instructions and follow them, ensuring I won't make any stupid mistakes on the precious fabric I intend to use for the actual garment (I can make those dumb mistakes on the muslin). And it gives me a better sense of how to break down the steps, which allows for good pacing. PLUS, it's satisfying enough to try on a muslin that fits well that it tides me over until I can carefully work through all the steps on the actual garment.
Which brings me to my muslin for Vogue 1212:
I love the seaming on this. I plan on drafting a hood to go with this for a future collar-less version, and maybe even taking out some ease, dropping the neckline, sewing up the middle and adding a back zip for a dress version. I like the proportions and the way it hangs. I can totally see it as a dress:
Is that fabric familiar? It's from IKEA. My friend Lizzi gave it to me. Like, a million yards of it. I've used it for so many things now: a jumpsuit for my pattern making class more than a year ago
I thought it made me look like a clown, hence the juggling. I also made a version for my daughter. It was much cuter on her:
I also think it pays to be aware of the actual length of time it takes to sew something. I usually have no clue how long it took me to make something, because I'll work at it over a few sewing sessions, cutting the pattern out one night, and the fabric the next, sewing the bodice one day, and the skirt on another.
It all adds up though, and I think all that time is what gives our handmade things more value (and not rushing is clearly the key for me, at least, in making my me-made garments look less Becky Home-ecky. It also pays to know how long it takes to make something, so that when someone suggests you make them a jacket, you can say, "Sure, it will only take me 15 hours!" (And cost $50 for the materials).
That in mind, I've resolved to keep better track of the true cost of sewing each garment, by keeping a running tally of the materials used and their purchase price, as well as the time contributed.
So far Vogue 1212 has cost me: $3.88 for the pattern (purchased on sale from Voguepatterns.com), and zip for the fabrics, which were donated to me by friends. (I will have to purchase lining fabric, three zippers and some interfacing, however, which I have yet to do. Wednesday is a professional development day for Lucy's pre-K, and I plan on dragging her downtown. Wish me luck).
I spent 40 minutes cutting the paper pattern, and an hour and 20 minutes sewing my muslin test garment (which is not lined, and does have closures, etc). So my running tally of time and money is $3.88 and two hours.
What about you people? What rules do you set for yourself when it comes to sewing?